Dear APS families, students, faculty and staff,
Throughout the pandemic, we have heard from many across the community with concerns about student well-being and mental health, and the importance of making evidence-based decisions informed by science. We share in these concerns and continue to support efforts that put students first in Andover Public School policies and operations.
In 2018, the district began examining the issue of school start times based on the recommendation of many professional medical organizations* that start times be delayed to 8:30 AM for adolescents in response to biological changes in sleep patterns and circadian rhythms during this stage of development. The key value of this initiative is to provide the opportunity for a positive impact on student well-being, and enhancing physical and mental health.
Options for changing start times have been extensively studied by the district over the past three years and we appreciate the enormous amount of feedback that has already been provided through the start time working group, parent advisory group, community forums, school-based meetings with families and students, at school committee meetings, in email and other communications. We hope you will once again engage with us to share your thoughts as we look toward making a start time decision for next school year.
During the pandemic, Andover High School shifted its start time from 7:45 AM to 8:15 AM because the district was unable to bus students in grades 9 to 12. Bus transportation will be restored for all grade levels next year, returning to a traditional level of service. This will necessitate a consolidation from the current three tiers of start times (7:45 AM at middle schools, 8:15 AM at high school, 8:45 AM at elementary schools) to return to two tiers of transportation in the fall.
The leading scenario under consideration for next year would have the start time at Andover High remain at 8:15 AM, move middle schools to the same 8:15 AM start for transportation efficiency and student health benefit, and shift elementary schools to a 9:00 AM start. This proposal was developed from stakeholder feedback received to date, and attempts to balance the scientifically proven benefits of later start times for middle and high school students with the goal of minimizing schedule impacts on elementary families. Other options considered and discussed with stakeholders included "flipping" elementary and secondary start times. The pros and cons of various scenarios are summarized in the June 2020 report of the Start Time Working Group.
The School Committee welcomes your feedback on this proposal in one or more of the following ways:
- Fill out the feedback form found here. The form will close to responses on Wednesday, June 16th at noon.
- Join a remote meeting to share your thoughts directly with members of the School Committee on: Tuesday, June 8th and/or Thursday, June 10 between 7:00 PM and 8:30 PM. Please register in advance and the meeting link will be emailed to you:
Your participation and engagement is important to us.
Susan K. McCready
Chairperson, Andover School Committee
*Professional medical organizations that recommend later start times for adolescents include: American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Sleep Medicine, American Academy of Sleep Technicians, American Medical Association, American Psychological Association, American Sleep Association, American Thoracic Society, Centers for Disease Control, National Association of School Nurses, National Parent Teacher Association, National Sleep Foundation, Society of Behavioral Medicine, and Society of Pediatric Nurses.